(A.k.a Le Spie vengono dal semi freddo)
Review by Nick Frame Directed by Mario Bava Starring: Franco Franchi, Ciccio Ingrassia, Vincent Price, Laura Antonelli, Fabian, Francesco Mule, George Wang, Moa Tahi. Source: 01 Distribution (Italy) (Pal Region 2 DVD, 85mins, 2005
The dastardly Dr.Goldfoot (Vincent Price) is determined to take over the world by getting rid of NATOís top generals. Along with his assistants Hardjob (Tahi) and Fong (Wang) he has created "Girl Bombs" who explode when they get embraced and kissed by their intended targets.
Meanwhile, Franco and Ciccio are working as hotel doormen with aspirations of becoming spies and all the benefits that come with it. Unfortunately for them they mistake a real secret agent, Bill Dexter (Fabian) of the SIC (Security Intelligence Command) for a bad guy and he fails to stop a Girl Bomb from completing her mission. Another general down and Goldfoot is well on his way to world domination.
In order to atone for what theyíve done, Franco and Ciccio plead with Bill to let them be secret agents and want to help him stop Goldfoot. Bill refuses and tries to tell Colonel Benson at headquarters what heís seen at the hotel however Benson is not impressed and we discover that Dexter was thrown out of SIC because of his roving eye with the ladies. Somehow however Franco and Ciccio who accompanied Bill to HQ are mistaken for new recruits and are led off to start training. Meanwhile Benson is showing off RITA a new supercomputer that will choose the best agents to stop Goldfoot. Humans make mistakes but computers do not he boasts, but the evil Goldfoot has been spying on the meeting and sabotages the computer leading to Franco and Ciccio being chosen as the planets last hope!
While watching this film I had to check the DVD box a few times to make sure that Mario Bava really had directed this because there is nothing here to suggest that he was even on set during filming. However Bava was contracted by Fulvio Lucisano to direct one more movie with him and since the prequel "Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" also starring Franco and Cicco was pretty successful he felt Bava to be the perfect choice. The film was co-financed by a US studio and would be promoted with Vincent Price over there and Franco and Ciccio in Italy. By all accounts Bava had little choice but to do the movie and his lack of willing seems to have been reflected by the flat performances all round. Also itís sad to see Bava resorting to cheap Benny Hill style quick motion for supposed comic effect.
Positive aspects? Well, Vincent Price does raise a few smirks with some of his lines and quips. Itís also interesting to note some similarities between this and Diabolik which was made in the same year (which in itself is very hard to believe). Both films look like a comic book come to life and some of the same camera tricks are employed in both films. But make no mistake, Diabolik is the superior film on every conceivable level, and in my opinion one of Bavaís very best.
Another point I must pick up on is Franco and Ciccio themselves. They are simply unfunny; there is no getting away from this fact. Their movies are usually shown on Italian TV on either Sunday afternoons while most people are eating and watching soccer instead or else tucked away on late night schedules and shown at 3am. Perfect viewing for insomniacs! Iíve never found Franco and Ciccio entertaining although there was definitely unfulfilled talent in them somewhere and I love Italian trash cinema. Perhaps they were funny to some at the time as to be fair they churned out over 130 films together (interesting to note that they worked with both Pasolini and Fellini), so some audiences obviously appreciated them. However other Italian comedy protagonists over the years such as Lino Banfi, Alvaro Vitali, and Edwige Fenech starred in many films together, and they are as funny now as they were when first released and its no coincidence that so many of their films are being revisited and enjoyed on DVD. Intriguingly though I discovered that Franco Franchi was offered the part of Salvatore the monk in Jean-Jacques Annaudís "In the Name of the Rose" but he turned it down saying he wanted to remain in comedy and not veer away from his traditional roles. Personally I think he would have fared very well away from comedic roles.
Moving on to the DVD itself, the menus are nicely animated with clips of the move playing in the background.
The 1:85:1 anamorphic image (restored and remastered in High Def for the Venice Film Festival) looks pretty good on the whole. But itís obviously been sourced from two different prints as quality varies from excellent to mediocre at times. To its credit when itís good, the film looks as though it was made yesterday. 01 has gone to a lot of work to restore this but itís a pity the film was not up to the same standards.
Audio too is a very clear and concise Italian Dual Mono 2.0 track with no crackle or hiss. There are both English subtitles and Italian Hard of Hearing subtitles. Be warned though that there are two version of this DVD on sale, one with English subs and one without. The one without English subs is identifiable as it comes with an Italian 5.1 soundtrack as well as 2.0 and the packaging is different on both releases.
Extras are sparse but there are trailers from some of the other cult films shown at the 2005 Venice Film Festival including: Bavaís "Planet of the Vampires" as well as "Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs" and Massimo Dallamanoís "Cosa avete fatto a Solange" and "Il Medaglione Insanguinato" In addition to this there is also a photo gallery with around 5 stills from the movie.
Overall itís quite hard to recommend picking up this film as itís messy and not particularly funny. One for Bava completists and Vincent Price fans only.
Story/Film - 2/5 Bitch Slaps Picture Ė 3.5/5 Bitch Slaps Sound - 3/5 Bitch Slaps Extras - 1/5 Bitch Slaps Overall DVD Ė 2/5 Bitch Slaps
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